As we approach the winter season and the increasing likelihood of inclement weather, it’s worth reminding ourselves about the dangers of distracted driving.

You would assume that if you and those around you follow the rules of the road, you should be able to get to your destination safely. But that’s only if you’re paying attention.

Drivers are faced with countless distractions on the roads and in their vehicles. Unfortunately, too many of us give into temptation, making distracted driving one of the leading causes of road accidents and deaths.

We all know that texting and driving is dangerous. But hands-free devices and built-in vehicle infotainment centers aren’t exactly safe either because they can take your attention the same way your cell phone does. In fact, many common habits can be just as distracting as your phone, from eating or interacting with a passenger to staring too long at something on the side of the road.
If something requires your eyes, your hands or your attention, it’s a distraction.

In 2021 more than 3,500 lives were lost to confirmed distracted driver cases. Moreover, since 2011, an estimated 32,000 vehicular deaths have been attributed to distracted driving.

So, what can we do to prevent distracted driving?

There are four types of distracted driving: visual, auditory, manual, and cognitive. Eating, drinking, listening to loud music, pets, even kids can cause us to lose focus. Some basic recommendations for drivers include:

  • First, and most obviously: Don’t talk or text while driving! According to traffic experts, texting is the most dangerous driving activity. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), text messaging increases the risk of crashes or near-crashes by 23 times.
  • But texting is not the only culprit in distracted driving incidents. Talking on the phone, even on a hand-less device, can impair the driver the same way being intoxicated would. Cell phone users are 5.36 times more likely to get into an accident than undistracted drivers, the research shows.

  • Don’t multitask while driving. Drivers should only do one thing while on the road: Drive! So don’t do paperwork or put on your makeup when you are rushing to get to school or work.
  • Don’t eat or drink while driving. Either eat before or after a trip, or pull over.
  • Don’t get distracted by technology. A big selling point for newer cars is all the bells and whistles, many of which are marketed as safety-promoting devices (voice-activated systems or handless devices). But the more complicated these are, the more attention they take from the road.
  • Make all adjustments before hitting the road. Drivers should set GPS, climate control, and sound systems, as well as adjust mirrors and seats, before setting out on the road.
  • Avoid the clutter. A messy car, with items rolling and moving all over the place, can be a distraction.
  • Keep your eyes on the road. Drivers should always keep their eyes on the road and avoid looking at things like cool-looking buildings or eye-catching billboards. It’s recommended that drivers move their eyes every two seconds and scan mirrors every five to eight seconds.
  • Never drive drowsy. Drowsy driving is a factor in more than 100,000 crashes each year, according to NHTSA. Drowsy drivers should immediately pull off the road and find a safe place to rest.

As a driver, it is your responsibility to make sure that you keep yourself and others safe so just drive and if something else demands your attention, just pull over. It is better to stay safe and obey the law than it is to cause an accident that can get you or someone else harmed or killed.

If you are concerned about distracted driving in your home or workplace, TSS can help you develop a contract for your teen or policies for your business. Contact us at